Read, watch, listen: bluenotes’ 2021 content stocking

There’s never been a time in history when so many of us have spent such copious amounts of time at home watching television and movies, reading or listening to audiobooks or bingeing our favourite podcast series.

Ahead of the upcoming festive season, we asked ANZ’s directors and senior executives to share their recommendations from the past year and what they are looking forward to relaxing with over the break.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Paul O’Sullivan – Chairman, ANZ

I like to use crime fiction to mentally travel and to switch off after a long day of reading business documents. Two of my favourite writers are Henning Mankell from Sweden and Andrea Camilleri from Italy. Both use their fiction as vehicles for social commentary - as well as being rattling great story tellers.

For more serious reading, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin at Optus loaned me a copy of The Socionomic Theory of Finance by Robert Prechter. As a former economics student I found it a confronting read as it debunks much of the established thinking on cause and effect in financial markets. She was being wonderfully mischievous knowing my increased involvement at ANZ!   

On TV - you can’t go past the ABC’s Insiders on a Sunday morning.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: Insiders host David Speers

Shayne Elliott – Chief Executive Officer, ANZ

I’m looking forward to a quiet summer to try get through a range of books I’ve wanted to read:

  • The Man Who Ran Washington, The Life and Times of James Baker III by Peter Baker and Susan Glasser. I have a soft spot for American politics and he was a giant of his time.
  • Razzle Dazzle, The Battle for Broadway by Michael Riedel. This is the history of Broadway and I loved the ability to go to musical theatre and serious plays when I lived in New York. My mother loved musical theatre (at least the movie versions) so my sister and I grew up with it. I’m intrigued to know more of its history.
  • The Quiet Americans, Four CIA Spies at the Dawn of the Cold War by Scott Anderson. The Cold War is a fascinating part of global history - throw in some good spy history and what could go wrong?
  • The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill. My wife gave me this some time ago. My first visit to the Pacific was just before COVID-19 and, as a Kiwi, I can’t help but love the story of Captain Cook (good and bad) and European discovery across our region.
  • The Unwinding: Thirty Years of American Decline by George Packer. I have loved his books before and this will be an interesting insight into the plight of America.
  • The First World War by Michael Howard. A short but apparently brilliant book outlining the story of WWI, a part of history I am ashamed to say I know little about.
  • Plus I will have a range of thrillers and crime books to weave between these more serious tones.

As for watching, my wife and I have loved the first seasons of US cop show The Rookie about a 40 year old who signed up as a trainee cop in the LAPD. It’s fiction but loosely based on a true story.

I also recently bought the Alfred Hitchcock movie collection – on DVD! - for my daughter and I to watch over the break. I’ll also enjoy the deluxe edition of Lawrence of Arabia. A magical movie which reminds me of my time in the Middle East - the romance and beauty of the desert. It also has a fabulous soundtrack.

Our holiday place doesn’t have wifi so I’m excited for no streaming and no podcasts! I feel like I’ve spent too much time on screens and with headphones on over the past two years so will instead be spending time walking outside with our dog Luca.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: The cast of The Rookie

Christine O’Reilly – Independent Non-Executive Director, ANZ

I recently read American Marriage by Tayari Jones by mistake! I was actually supposed to have read American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld for my book club but couldn’t remember the title and read the wrong book! It was still a great read though!

I am a big fan of local Mornington Peninsula writer Garry Disher. His latest book The Way It Is Now is based in the Victorian beachside suburbs of Point Leo, Somers, Merricks Beach and Balnarring. Although I don’t think it was his best, I found it very evocative as I recognised locations throughout the novel and believe I can identify some locals woven into the plot! I’ll read some more of his over the holidays, great summer and beach reading.

Continuing the Australian theme, I am currently watching the second series of the ABC drama Total Control with Debra Mailman and Rachel Griffiths. I find it confronting but extremely good. Sadly, banks are not depicted well.

Finally, I have not yet had an opportunity to go to the cinema to watch the new James Bond movie No Time To Die but I will get there over the break! The Bond movies are very big in our household - normally it’s the one movie we all watch together but this time the others could not wait!

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: Debra Mailman and Rachel Griffiths in Total Control

John Macfarlane – Independent Non-Executive Director, ANZ

I have a few books on my to-do list over the break:

  • The World for Sale by Javier Blas and Jack Farchy. A non-fiction story about the world of commodity traders. I have enjoyed a few other non-fictions in this space including The King of Oil and The Secret Club that Runs the World - they read like great adventure spy novels but are founded in the true world of commodity trading.
  • The Antisocial Network by Ben Mezrich. This follows the fascinating story of the GAMESTOP short squeeze and how a Reddit forum took on Wall Street.
  • Never by Ken Follett. A historical fiction writer casts a futurist’s eye on the world and prospects for World War III.
  • Silverview by John le Carré. This posthumously published novel follows a city trader who plots an escape to bookshop ownership in a quiet English seaside town.

I am not a binger of TV but I have just started watching Ted Lasso which is very enjoyable and contains some great messaging! Beyond that,TV watching will be dominated by sport! However, my favourite mid-year total relaxation choice is Gogglebox! It’s the only reality TV (other than sport) I can watch and enjoy!

This year turned out to be the year of the podcast for me. I almost feel like I’m permanently walking round with earpods in - either on the phone or listening to a podcast. I enjoy the various series produced by the Financial Times.

However, Real Vision has been the big winner for me in 2021. Founded by ex-hedge fund manager Raoul Pal, a “macro strategist” who grew up in the world of fixed income and credit but has since converted to the world of digital assets (watch Raoul’s Adventures in Crypto). His background and training mean the digital and financial world is seen through a lens familiar and understandable to me. The program hosts high quality guests who cover a broad range of topics and provide a wide array of views.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: Real Vision Founder Raoul Pal

Antonia Watson – Group Executive & CEO, New Zealand, ANZ

Top of my list to read over the break is Ken Follett’s new book Never about a path to a World War III that’s apparently quite realistic. I love his books, they are incredibly well-researched and you always learn something while being told a good yarn.

Other good pieces of “airport fiction” I’ve read recently include:

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: Author Ken Follett

Gerard Florian – Group Executive Technology, ANZ

In the run up to the much anticipated COP26 in Glasgow I read The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, an eerily familiar climate fiction novel set in 2025. Life imitates fiction again.

I also enjoyed AI 2041, Ten Visions for Our Future by Kai-Fu Lee. The former president of Google China collaborated with celebrated novelist Chen Quifan to imagine how we will live with artificial intelligence through 10 short stories based in 2041.

I have been bingeing The Great on Stan – an occasionally accurate account of Catherine the Great which somehow threads the needle of acceptable material despite being very wrong. Huzzah!

I’ve been enjoying The Tim Ferriss Show recently, his episode on Web 3.0 is essential listening for those wanting to better understand what the fuss is all about.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: Peter and Catherine in The Great

Sir John Key – GNZM AC Independent Non-Executive Director, ANZ

I have a few recommendations from this year, all on very different topics!

  • Ted Lasso on Neon in New Zealand - a great laugh and feel good storytelling.
  • Fauda on Netflix follows Israel Mossad agents in action. Don’t let the terrible dubbing quality get in the way of a brilliant story!
  • StartUp  also on Netflix. A good yarn and a very relevant look at the highs and lows of crypto.
  • Lastly, The Spy on Netflix. Who would believe it’s Borat – similar moustache but very different character!

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: Coach Beard, Ted Lasso and Roy Kent in Ted Lasso

Emma Gray – Group Executive Data & Automation, ANZ

This summer I am going to try finish Between Two Hells by Diarmaid Ferriter about the Irish civil war. Not a lot of people realise it happened but it was very nasty brother vs brother stuff. I started reading it during lockdowns but always found Netflix got in the way!

I am also planning to re-read Working Backwards by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr. Both men are Amazon Web Services veterans and their story on how the organisation drove agile development is inspirational.

I’m also going to do some serious movie and series watching:

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: The cast of House of Gucci

Mark Whelan - Group Executive Institutional, ANZ

I’m planning on reading three very different books this summer:

  • Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. A murder mystery set in Belfast to satisfy my Irish roots.
  • Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe. I’m very interested to learn more about Australia’s history and our traditional owners.
  • I’m looking forward to finishing my signed copy of Life by Keith (Keef) Richards from the Rolling Stones. I’m expecting a rollicking read from the guitarist of one of my favourite bands.

I’m also keen to see Belfast, a coming of age film covering the conflicts in Ireland through the late sixties and early seventies. I’ve heard it’s very confronting but laced with great Irish humour - a must watch.

Between all of this, I’ll be watching the series Yellowstone on Stan, a western drama about a ranching family in Montana.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast

Graeme Liebelt - Non-Executive Director & Chair, Risk Committee, ANZ

After watching all nine episodes of Squid Game on Netflix I was desperately in need of something a little more light hearted!

Like many, I had already watched and thoroughly enjoyed Ted Lasso so instead landed on Welcome to Sweden – a very funny series with eccentric characters highlighting the culture clash between the US and Sweden.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: Squid Game – not for the faint hearted

Ilana Atlas - Non-Executive Director, ANZ & Chairman, Coca-Cola Amatil

I have enjoyed a wide variety of content this year so it’s always tricky to narrow it down to just a few:

  • The Power of the Dog is a brilliant movie by Jane Campion on Netflix. It’s perfect for those few of us who do not like Yellowstone!
  • Just like everyone else, I loved Ted Lasso. It kept me going during my stay in hotel quarantine in Perth. Roll on series 3!
  • The New York Times’ Daily podcast keeps me in touch with what is going on in the US. It makes for great listening while out for a walk – something I did a lot of in lockdown!
  • And finally, The Labrynth by Amanda Lohrey. Winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award and just so beautiful.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: Author Amanda Lohrey

Kevin Corbally – Chief Risk Officer, ANZ

Throughout the year, I sent daily COVID-19 updates to our Australian staff and included a few words on what I was enjoying that week. The best part was staff would often respond and share their own recommendations so I now have a very long list to get through over the break!

Three of the more memorable books I have read this year have been:

  • The Paris Collaborator by AW Hammond (who is actually the partner of one of our staff!). Set in German-occupied Paris in 1944, it is a riveting read for anyone who enjoyed books like All the Light We Cannot See and The Da Vinci Code.
  • Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. A true story of the troubles in Northern Ireland and winner of the Orwell Prize for Political Writing.
  • Still by Australian author Matt Nable. Set in 1960s Darwin - a ripping thriller in the vogue of The Dry and Scrublands.

I am also looking forward to sitting down over the holidays and re-reading Stephen Fry’s Mythos which is an entertaining re-telling of some of the great Greek myths and legends. I’ve been dropping hints to the other members of the Corbally family about books I wouldn’t mind reading over the holiday period, including one from the wonderful Australian crime author Chris Hammer titled Treasure and Dirt and the latest from Lee Child, and Michael Connolly. Fingers crossed I am on Santa’s ‘nice’ list!

Finally, I am really looking forward to sitting down and watching multiple re-runs of the Melbourne Demons wonderful 2021 AFL Grand Final victory over the Western Bulldogs! I have yet to get tired of watching that game and seeing captain Max Gawn hoisting the AFL Premiership cup after a very long 57-year wait!

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: 2021 AFL Premiership Cup winners the Melbourne Demons

Richard Yetsenga – Chief Economist, ANZ

I have consumed a lot of content over the past two years, so I have tried my best to hand out my “best of” awards fairly across the different categories!

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: Promising Young Woman’s Carey Mulligan

Jane Halton - Non-Executive Director, ANZ & Chairman, Vault Systems

Given his recent passing, I am planning to listen to a number of Steven Sondheim’s soundtracks - particularly Sunday in the Park with George which was one of my father’s favourites. I’ll also be tuning into the 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy podcast from the BBC.

On my reading list there is a huge pile building up from a year of not having much time to read:

I also need to catch up on some good viewing so Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog will be top of the list.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: Former Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel

Ken Adams – Group General Counsel, ANZ

Shayne Elliott recently gave me a copy of Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe. An extraordinary example of what can happen when a company doesn’t have a sound purpose and when the legal/regulatory system breaks down. There’s also a good documentary mini-series on the same story called Crime of the Century.

ANZ’s Executive Committee has been on a learning journey on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and issues. I learned a lot from reading Everything You Need to Know About the Uluru Statement From the Heart by Megan Davis and George Williams. This will be a key issue for Australia in coming years. If you are interested but only have a few minutes to spare, have a look at Paul Keating’s 1992 Redfern Speech.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: The Uluru Statement from the Heart

Mark Hand – Group Executive Australia Retail & Commercial, ANZ

Two streaming series have really hooked me over the last year and – maybe because we’re in a global crisis which, as humans, we could’ve handled better – neither really paints humanity in the softest light.

Succession, a story of a truly dysfunctional media family in a time of technological revolution ruled by a despotic, immoral and ageing patriarch, is obviously fictional. There’s no character with whom it’s possible to sympathise, they’re all horrible. And that’s probably the attraction.

The other series to which – and I won’t say I’m addicted as it’s too serious for easy puns – is Dopesick. In my few decades in banking I’ve seen quite a few industries go awry but the horrific consequences of the opioid crisis in America, inflamed by organisations who lost their sense of purpose, is a terrifying morality tale and Michael Keaton is terrific.

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: The cast of Succession

Maile Carnegie - Group Executive Digital & Australia Transformation, ANZ

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Franklis is an oldie but it's one of my favourite books so I am going to re-read it (again) over the break as a reminder of the attitude I could and should take during the crazy times we are in. 

Some of other interesting pieces I will be consuming over the break include:

Click image to zoom Tap image to zoom

Pic: McKinsey's Quarterly questions attrition vs attraction

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.